For the better part of the last decade, Joshua and Julie Korn have faithfully served at CURE Niger, Julie as our Art Therapist and Joshua as our Spiritual Director and then our Executive Director. Their impact on CURE Niger was immeasurable. They are currently transitioning into new roles with CURE International in the USA, so we thought we would reflect a little on their time at CURE Niger.
Years before their arrival, Joshua and Julie dreamt of serving in French-speaking West Africa. Joshua spent many of his formative years in this part of the world (Togo and Côte d’Ivoire). A friend of the Korns knew their desire and contacted them as soon as word got out that CURE was going to build a hospital in Niamey, Niger. The new hospital would be located on the northern edge of West Africa and the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Immediately intrigued, Josh and Julie and took a shot in the dark and applied. One thing rapidly led to another, and the Korns soon found themselves on a plane, moving to a country neither one had ever visited before.
Joshua excelled in his role as the Spiritual Director, becoming known for his compassionate and practical approach to ministry, administration, and relationships. Day-to-day contact with the patients and their caretakers was the bread and butter of Joshua’s experience, giving him insight into both CURE and the new world around him. Maintaining close contact with the people and patients of CURE helped Joshua to truly understand the organization’s ministry model and the depth of the impact being made in the lives of the children and their families.
As Joshua acclimated to his new position as Spiritual Director, Julie carved out a niche for herself as the hospital’s Art Therapist. She used her newly-acquired master’s degree in art therapy to work, in a volunteer capacity, with the patients at the hospital. CURE Niger is unique in that patients reside in the patient guest house for months after surgery while their bodies slowly heal. The patient’s prolonged stay provides unfettered access, giving people like Julie the opportunity to make significant progress using tools such as art therapy. After six months of volunteering, Julie submitted a proposal and was hired by CURE International as CURE’s first Art Therapist.
As time went on, Joshua felt the itch to try something new. Brian VanHall, now CURE’s Chief Operating Officer, was the Executive Director of CURE Niger at the time. Brian was excited about Josh’s aspirations and mentored him, giving him more and more responsibility in the running of the hospital. When it came time for Brian to answer the call to serve at a higher level with CURE, he encouraged Joshua to apply for the Executive Director position. Soon, the search team approved Joshua’s request to lead CURE Niger into its next season.
Joshua was widely respected by both the internal CURE Niger community and the Nigerien community at large. Because he spent the years prior as part of the CURE Niger family, the staff regarded Josh as the brother who rose through the ranks. Julie progressed as well by further expanding the art therapy program and developing key relationships, bringing outside people and organizations into the CURE fold and involving them in the process of the emotional and spiritual healing of our patients.
Because of his excellent work, Joshua keeps rising through the ranks of CURE International. Joshua has accepted the position of Grants Manager at the CURE offices in Michigan. Transitions are never easy, but Joshua and Julie are confident they have left the hospital in good hands with George and Georgiana Găvruș, who will serve as the new Executive Director and art therapist, respectively.
“I am so excited about the future of CURE Niger, and I know that under the leadership of George, God is going to bless the hospital in so many ways. I am confident that God will continue to bring more patients and partners who will help CURE advance the kingdom of God in Niger.” Joshua tells us.
In the end, Joshua says he simply hopes he and Julie are remembered for “helping to bring hope and healing to the patients and having been a good co-worker and friend.”
A simple request from a humble director, co-worker, and friend.